Today is my fourth complete day away from work.
I haven’t even looked at my email.
Damn! Now I’ve made myself feel as if I should look at my email. But I won’t! I will solemnly take a full four days off work!
This weekend I have thought a lot about how I want to go back out into the world personally. It’s easy to do this because my mobility is limited by the fact that I cannot drive. I had one cataract operation in late February and the second had to be cancelled, leaving me with good enough vision to walk, but inadequate for driving.
The optometrist I see told me it would be possible to drive but, when she told me this, I remembered my first visit to Vancouver in 1977 and learning that everyone reaches a stage when they should not be driving.
I stayed at the home of a friend’s mother. She lived in a house on Point Grey Road designed by Arthur Erickson – it was one of the most amazing homes I have ever seen!
She offered to show my friend and me around and, even though it cost a lot of money for a medical student on a scholarship, I paid her way on this tour to say thank you for her kindness. On the last day, she took me to lunch at a restaurant that was new at the time, but still exists today – Naam on West 4th Avenue. I recalled our luncheon when Caitlin took me there the first time I visited her in Vancouver. As we drove to the restaurant, Dallas turned to me and said, “Dear, let me know if you see any red lights coming up. I’m not so good at seeing them any longer.” West 4th Avenue in Vancouver was as busy then as it is now and so that was a terrifying trip! The moral of the story is: I have learned not to drive when I really shouldn’t.
Not driving – because I shouldn’t – has meant that I can think about when I will go out, where I will go and what I will do. I read as many articles as I could about this. The Globe and Mail had very thoughtful information about this over the weekend.
What has been most thought-provoking, however, is how many people would gladly return to “the good old days” of three months ago. Even now, these folks are fearlessly donning masks – or not – while epidemiologists and economists work out “the way forward”.
However, all these “experts” notwithstanding, this weekend away from emails and strategic plans and post-COVID opening timelines has reminded me of something I read in Tom Nichols’ The Death of Expertise: “…Public policy is not a parlor game of prediction; it is about long-term choices rooted in thoughtful consideration of costs and alternative.” (pp. 126-7 in The Death of Expertise – 2017 Oxford University Press edition)
My life is not public policy, but I am still planning to think about the costs and alternatives of what I want for myself moving forward. Time away from what I had been doing has made me think about what I most want to go out for.
Right now, when I have few choices, is the right time to think about what is most important.
(When I visited Vancouver in 1977, I bought this print of Beaver by Richard Hunt of the Kwakwaka’wakh Nation at the Museum of Anthropology. I could afford it at the time, as a medical student, but I’m not sure I could afford any of his work now. I hope that I can still understand what is valuable in the next months as I did 43 years ago!)